I don’t remember the kid’s name, or maybe he never actually told me. I was in Fountain City, WI and it had just started to snow outside. The town has a population of 700 people, give or take a few depending on the number of graduating seniors from the year before. We were presenting out new film to the senior high at the school in the town, and the school actually held K-12. And to add onto everything, we met a wonderful lunch lady named Barb who supplied my team with a very nostalgic plate lunch of tacos, complete with chocolate milk.
The kid came up to me during when the presentation was going on when I had the job of standing at the merch table that was set up outside of the cafeteria. It was the elementary school’s turn for lunch so many of the children would wonder past the table with wide eyes, far too intimidated to stop and talk to me. Many of them would slow down when they reached the table and when I would say hello, they would either start giggling profusely and run away or stop dead in their tracks, gasp and back slowly away in terror. But not this kid. He was different and stopped to talk to me. Actually, thinking back on it he walked up to the table with a strut that was full of confidence and innocence. He stopped right in front of me, pointed to the table and asked, “what’s this all about?” I told him that we were a group of people who were giving a presentation to the high schoolers. He then asked, “what kind of presentation? What do you guys do?” Now, I love elementary kids and had the privilege to work with them when I was in Fayetteville, but I haven’t exactly had practice in trying to explain Invisible Children or justice to a second grader before. So I opened my mouth and let the small amount of truth I know proceed. I stumbled on my words but ended up saying something along these lines: “we are a group of people who are trying to stop a really bad man from kidnapping kids and making them hurt people.” I can honestly say that I will never forget the look on his face. He instantly lost the confidence that he had held and his face turned from a sheepish smile to a concerned frown. He lowered his voice and just asked, “what?” I tried to keep it light and we stood there in the hallway of his school and talked for another two or three minutes. He and I both knew that it was too heavy for the moment and he turned to walk away. But when he started walking, he stopped after two or three steps and turned around. He looked at me in the eyes and when we made eye contact, his mouth formed that same smile he had approached me with and put his arm up, formed a peace sign with his fingers and said, “peace” as he started walking again down the hall. In that moment, I learned something profound: injustice is not complicated, it’s simple… it’s wrong and there are no questions attached to that. Seeing the heart of a second grader break might have been the thing that finally helped me understand how simple all of this really is. Injustice is wrong, it has to be stopped and we are the ones to stop it. There are no ifs, ands, and buts about it, it’s time to act.
I wonder why we all can’t understand like that kid understands. Why do we see something wrong and write it off by saying it’s too complicated to solve? “Oh, it’s just another problem. There are thousands of them out in the world, why work on one?” My question is, why not? If there are a thousand problems in the world and I don’t work to fix the one I can, then there are still 1000 problems, instead of 999. I have learned so much in the past two months of being with Invisible Children and I am so thankful for everything I have experienced. The stories are many and beautiful and even thinking back about them, makes me laugh and smile thinking about how much change has accompanied me in the past 53 days. But one of the main things I have learned is the importance of simplicity. Sometimes things are complicated and I understand that and I am not too naïve to say it, but often things are so simple that we can’t see them for what they are. Just like injustice is simple, so is my walk with Jesus. Love God, love people and if I pursue those two things, then I will learn and live all that I need to.
Maybe Jesus was onto something when he said that in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, we must become like children. Maybe just maybe, when Jesus said that the greatest command was to love God and to love people, he wasn’t just suggesting.
I have been on the road for just over a week (following a monumental month and a half in San Diego) and I have already experienced so much adventure. It’s been an incredible journey thus far and I am so excited to see what happens over these next two months of being on tour. I believe with everything that I am that we will see Joseph Kony be brought to justice and also see the youth of America be turned upside down with the story of humanity and being global citizens. I am humbled to be a part of something that is truly shaping human history.
Just like that kid left me with, I will also leave with you. Peace. It’s achievable and it’s real.
Take my hand, let’s dance and let’s teach everyone else as well.